If they want to be shocked then they are shocked, says Dr M after LGE acquittal

Yiswaree Palansamy

Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad at a press conference at the Parliament in Kuala Lumpur August 14, 2018. — Picture by Mukhriz Hazim

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 3 — Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad seemingly expressed surprise today at the acquittal of Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng of corruption in the purchase of a bungalow.

In a press conference in Brunei, the Langkawi MP however said that he respected the High Court’s finding and claimed he has never questioned the decisions of the judiciary.

“They have a right to be shocked. If they want to be shocked, then they are shocked. I too was shocked,” Dr Mahathir said in what appeared to be jest.

He was asked to comment on the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission’s (MACC) statement expressing shock over the verdict.

“That is the court’s decision. I never questioned the court’s decision. Even when the courts made a decision last time, which to me was wrong, I never questioned also.

“If the decision is made by the court, then we are to accept it. If you don’t want to accept, you can appeal,” Dr Mahathir added.

This morning, Lim, and businesswoman Phang Li Koon were acquitted by the High Court in Penang on corruption charges, over the purchase of a bungalow below the market value, while Lim was Penang chief minister.

MACC said in a statement after the acquittal that it was “very shocked” by the court decision, adding: “MACC would like to stress that the decision to withdraw the case was decided by the Attorney-General’s Chambers and not from MACC.”

In the proceedings, presiding Judge Datuk Hadhariah Syed Ismail, said that she did not agree with the prosecution’s request for the charges to be withdrawn and have both Phang and Lim be discharged not amounting to an acquittal (DNAA).

“The charges cannot be hanging over the head of the accused indefinitely. There must be a finality in this case. I cannot agree with the prosecution. We do not conduct cases on an instalment basis. There must be a stop, no coma, especially in criminal cases.

“After studying the case as a whole and the very long time to get a decision, I order that both the accused be discharged and acquitted,” she said.

Before she made the order, Hadhariah said so far the prosecution had called 25 witnesses to testify in the trial last March and now in September the prosecution had asked the case to be DNAA.

“Six months later, the prosecution may call for other witnesses. There is no such thing especially in public interest case. If the prosecution requests for DNAA, the court too cannot close the case,” she said.

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